By Jill Hanning
LEBANON - City Council has passed legislation to increase the salaries of council members by 400 percent and the mayor by 500 percent. Meanwhile, council members voted to cut the civic donation program by $46,000.
Council voted 6-1 Tuesday evening to increase the mayor's salary from $1,500 to $9,000 annually and the salaries of council members from $1,200 to $6,000. For the seven members of council, the combined increase totals $36,300, money that will come out of the city's general fund.
The new rates will become effective Jan. 1 and do not affect this year's budget. It is the first pay raise for council since 1975.
Before the vote, Councilman Ronald Pandorf reiterated his opposition to the raise.
"I did not run to become a member of council for pay. I think the money could be better used somewhere else," he said. "I'm certain it will pass. My only comment on that is `Shame on you.'"
The civic donation program allocates funds, in-kind services and, in some cases, office space to community nonprofit organizations. Last year, council allocated $76,000 through the program. This year's allocations total $30,000.
"We've wrestled with this in finance meetings," Vice Mayor James Reinhard said Tuesday.
"It was a compromise. We didn't feel it was fair to cut these organizations off at the knee, so to speak; but we had to show them we are having financial difficulties."
"The promotion of the city in this manner is the wish of council. I wish there was more we could do," Councilman James Norris added.
"There is more we could have done - not taken the pay increase this council has just passed," Pandorf responded.
Allocation recipients include the Chamber of Commerce Carriage Parade, Lebanon Theater Company, Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Applefest Committee, Optimist Club Blues Festival, County Historical Society, Rotary Club, Lions Club and Habitat for Humanity.
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